Digital Class is a Pain

Seattle skyline, with an addition

Every Saturday for the past seven weeks I’ve gone along to a class which is part of our core requirements for my Advanced Diploma of Photography at PSC. On first review of the class outline I thought, this will be great. I’ll learn all about printing at print labs, cause it’s not something I do that often now, but of course will be doing a lot in the future.

The first six weeks have been almost unbearable. If it wasn’t for the fact that I have such nice classmates I think I would be pulling my hair out.

Week seven finally came around, we were going to talk about printing. YAY I was finally excited. Then bam! The whole talk about printing (so far) is: You should always submit your photos to the print lab using their specifications.

Ummm yeah, of course.

“And here is a PDF showing the pricing and print specs for the PSC print lab.”

I was like, what tha! That’s it, seven weeks of boredom and THAT’S IT!

Argh. Funny thing is I probably could have gotten an out on this class. But having seen what another classmate had to go through to do so, and he works in a print lab. I’m not sure I could have successfully proven prior knowledge to their satisfaction given that I’ve never worked in the print world AND I’ve never actually sent a print job to a professional lab before. Well once before via work. And the guys at work checked my file first.

So fingers crossed the next five weeks aren’t as lame, we will be talking more about the extra tweaks we should make to our photos prior to printing, additional sharpening etc, and how to soft-proof with colour profiles prior to submission. Which reminds me, I have to remember to borrow the monitor calibrator from work this coming week to make sure my new iMac is correct.

We’re not required to create a print at school for two weeks, because some of the rest of the class is a little behind and we’re slightly behind schedule. But I’m going to give it a go. Now we’ve had the “print lab chat” we’re allowed to start sending files to the lab.

PSC has lots of little things like that. You can’t use the print lab till you’ve had the chat. Same with the studio space, once we’ve had our workshop in October we can book in to use the space for our projects and external work, as long as it supports our education.

I also learnt last night, from a couple of second year students shooting Fashion+Aid with me, that PSC has a couple of large and medium format cameras available for loan (or hire, can’t remember), but not until we learn about them in year 2.

So for now I’ll sit in a class I don’t really need to take. Listen to yet another tutor tell us all how our other tutors may have their way of doing things but he’d prefer we investigate using HIS way. A practice which continues to confuse sections of the class.

And while this is becoming a bit of a rant, please indulge me while I continue.

The tutors ALL have different ways of doing things. They ALL tell you their way is better. This is from the file formats we should use (either the camera’s own RAW format or DNG) to the way we should sort and store our files (some in chronological folders with shoot names, some without names, cause why would you need them when that information is in the EXIF data anyway). For the record I prefer to keep mine in their original format. Making them DNG doesn’t really do that much to future-proof them anyway (which is one of the reasons for conversion) and it takes heaps longer to import the files. And on naming conventions, I’ve tried both since starting my classes. Hate the one where you’d just use a date format for folder and file names. much prefer the ones with an attached name, makes it much easier when you are scanning your folders or on another computer that doesn’t have the same search facilities as the Mac (Spotlight is awesome for searching any data in a file, but I may not always be on a mac).

Constantly switching what we are taught is a BAD practice for the students who have little to no idea about computers. It continues to confuse them and doesn’t allow them to fully get into one way of doing things before it is changed up.

Our current digital tutor also tends to be halfway through showing one way of doing something in Photoshop, only to remember there is another way to do it and switches to that way, confusing the crap out of the students who could barely follow along in the first place. His favourite saying in class is “there is between 3 and 30 ways of doing everything in Photoshop”.

And I’m a little loath to assist the other students myself. Not because I don’t want to or can’t (I most certainly can) but because once I start the tutor will notice and leave another student he was halfway through assisting to come and take over from me, leaving the student he left with only half a solution and confusing the student I was helping by starting all over again and leaving the point we were up to.

So that’s my rant, six (no seven) weeks of pent-up frustration having to sit through a class I don’t think I really need to do, right in the middle of Saturday afternoons!

Photo above is the Seattle skyline I took while in the US earlier this year, you may notice the digital manipulation in the photo haha.

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